Last week I broke down my picks for AL All-Star Game starters, before the final ballots (three nominees for each position had come out.
Fan voting can occasionally make some really bad calls (Aaron Judge, he of barely 25 games played this year, is closing in on an AL starting spot) but with the final ballot out now, I’ll stick to picking from the final candidates for my National League picks as opposed to the entire league.
All stats as of 6/27/19, via Baseball Reference & MLB.com
Catcher – Wilson Contreras, CHC
Contreras has been the best offensive catcher in the National League, as well as a plus defender. This could be a real emergence of Contreras ascending to Yadier Molina/Buster Posey’s thrones as routine NL starter at catcher.
First Base – Josh Bell, PIT
Apologies to Freddie Freeman, who’s having an incredible season in his own right, Bell has been fantastic. He’s crushed 21 HRs and is also leading MLB in doubles to boot.
This could end up easily being Freemand (or Anthony Rizzo, the 3rd nominated player), but seeing Bell as a first-time All Star & a starter would be great. He’s 5th in MLB in OPS, so that should be good enough at least for a ticket to Cleveland.
Second Base – Ketel Marte, ARI
Potentially the surprise of the All-Star season, Marte has the statline (.316, 20 HRs) of a feared slugger, not a second basemen. He is matched up with an actual feared slugger, 3rd base transplant Mike Moustakas, and a traditional 2nd baseman in Ozzie Albies in voting, but Marte has surpassed both this season.
If he’s healthy (was recently taken out of action with a groin injury), Marte should be your starter.
Third Base – Nolan Arenado, COL
It’s been great to see the resurgence of both Josh Donaldson & Kris Bryant this year. Donaldson has been extremely solid playing under his one year deal in Atlanta, while Bryant looks like he could challenge for an MVP again, especially if he turns it on the 2nd half.
However, Arenado is the easy pick here. You could throw out defense completely and Arenado still takes the job. He’s hitting .317 with 19 HRs and a .953 OPS, right up there with his usual standard of offensive force. Throw in that he’s potentially the best defensive player in baseball and 3rd base is a pretty easy pick.
Shortstop – Javier Baez, CHC
All-Star games were made for players like Baez; equal parts talented, energetic, and exciting. He’s having arguably the best season of any SS in baseball anyways, but MLB needs a player like this in its ASG starting lineup.
There’s no other way to say it, but Baez has swag (just Google “Javy Baez tag in WBC” if you need more proof). I’d love to see his lightning bat speed as much as possible for the NL squad.
Outfield – Christian Yelich, MIL
Outfield – Cody Bellinger, LAD
Outfield – Charlie Blackmon, COL
I’ll actually start with Blackmon, the most under-the-radar of this trio. Per usual, it seems as though Rockies players get dinged for playing at Coors, with a lot of their offensive stats written off.
However, Blackmon is top-10 in baseball in AVG, Slugging, & OPS, and deserves to be an NL starter.
As for Yelich and Bellinger, I mean, where do you start? The only player that’s maybe been better than Yelich this year (aside from best player on the planet Mike Trout) is Bellinger, who’s been batting on another planet from the get-go. Bellinger & Yelich are the two easiest shoo-ins to start in this game, especially since if by some travesty one doesn’t win the election they can be slotted into the DH role.
Starting Pitcher – Max Scherzer, WAS
Don’t get me wrong, Hyun-Jin Ryu has been incredible in Los Angeles. He absolutely deserves to be first guy out of the bullpen with his miniscule ERA & WHIP.
But, Mad Max is the best pitcher in baseball. He’s an absolute bulldog on the mound, and is leading the NL in K/9 by half a strikeout, and pitchers in WAR by almost a full point. If it’s the All Star Game, you want the absolute best getting the ball, and that’s Max.
By Kyle Bandujo